"By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.” -Voltaire
“Our passions are ourselves.” -Anatole France
There’s nothing quite like the fun of a treasure hunt for antiques, especially when we happen upon a really cool find that sparks delight and becomes a beloved treasure.
I didn’t know that I needed a vintage metal mesh evening bag with silk lining until I saw it. I was unfamiliar with the designer, Whiting and Davis, but the Internet told me all I needed to know. My iPhone barely fits inside the bag, but back in the 1960s, when it originally was used, ladies carried little more than a lipstick and wallet.
Technically, an antique is at least 100 years old. Antiques can be arts and crafts, art glass, rare books, precious coins, home furnishings, period pieces, timepieces, fine jewelry, objects d’art and sculpture.
Vintage items are less than 100 years old and include designer clothes, jewelry, handbags, signs, music and books, art, kitchen items, furniture, toys, tools and wines.
The wonderful thing about shopping for antiques and vintage items is that so much research and identifying trends is done on the Internet. Who knew that vinyl records would make a comeback?
Today’s treasure hunters include pickers looking for finds on a road trip, savvy shoppers bidding on objects online or attendees at a live auction.
Antique shops, estate sales, vintage goods retailers, auctions and architectural salvage businesses are wonderful treasure troves for finding antiques.
If you are new to antique collecting, experts at fine auction houses can help with research, education and acquisitions.
Every antique deserves a special place in your home.
It is best to work with an interior designer or antiques expert to determine how to display and protect yesteryear treasures.
Collections and large pieces — such as a table, armoire, roll-top desk or poster bed — need plenty of space to be displayed in harmony with your newer pieces. Devote an alcove, special niche, large amount of wall space or cabinet to show off your pieces.
My husband, Jack, is an architect. He once was commissioned to design a house from scratch around his clients’ extensive antique collection.
You also will need to consider whether to use accent lighting to show off your pieces. Some items, such as rare books and fine art, may need to be shielded from light and temperature changes.
Passing down items or collections to future generations, becomes part of your enduring legacy and threads in the fabric of your family's story.
If you have an antique that you want to sell or donate to a charity, antiques dealers and auction houses offer appraisals and advice.
The value of an item extends beyond money. Emotional and sentimental values are also important. There is value in the sheer delight of owning an item that you love.
Old pieces tell stories that we are richer for knowing. They tell of the culture and society of yesteryear eras.
My father once rummaged through a musty barn filled with furniture covered with cobwebs and found an old wooden dough box that he refinished. The box was from a time long before mixers and bread machines, when people baked homemade bread by hand.
Artifacts tell us about the materials that were available, construction techniques used and even world events.
Here are five artists and craftsmen whose creations not only speak volumes of the history of their times but remain in demand by antique collectors.
Tiffany: Louis Comfort Tiffany, the American artist known for colorful Art Nouveau stained glass windows and lamps, established Tiffany Studios in 1902 in New York. He developed and patented a process for manufacturing iridescent art glass known as Favrile (a French term that means handmade).
Fabergé: The famous Fabergé eggs were created by jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé between 1885 and 1917 for the Imperial Russian tsars who gave the precious jeweled eggs as Easter gifts to their wives. Made of enamel and encrusted with precious gems, many of the eggs open to reveal a tiny surprise.
Klimt: "The Kiss" was painted by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt in 1907-1908 in his Golden Phase, using oils embellished with gold leaf. His commissioned portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, "Woman In Gold," was stolen by the Nazis in 1941 but recovered in 2006.
Lalique: French-born René Lalique, known as the inventor of modern jewelry, opened his business in 1887. He combined gemstones, enamel and glass in ways never before seen. By the mid 1920s, he transitioned from jewelry into glass, designing magnificent Art Deco perfume bottles for the prominent Coty fragrance company.
Gorman: Referred to as the Picasso of American Indian artists, R.C. Gorman’s colorful paintings celebrate women and the Navajo culture. He was influenced by Diego Rivera and other Mexican artists. Born in Arizona, his oils and pastels feature the stunning Southwest landscape. "Chili Peppers," a lithograph completed in 1987, is a wonderful example of his soft, fluid style. Gorman opened the first Native American-owned gallery in 1968 in Taos, New Mexico.
We collect and live with things that speak to our hearts, and the cool things we love are worth celebrating!
Patricia Wilson is an artist and interior designer registered with the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners. Connect with her at PatrciaCWilson.com.